A blood pressure that rapidly falls when you suddenly stand up is a sign of weakness in older people, and this is according to the study that we’ll discuss later.
The study that we’ll talk about was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The study discusses the relationship between geriatric patients and orthostatic hypotension. In layman’s terms, the study is about the relationship between older people and a type of low blood that makes you dizzy when you suddenly stand up. In textbook knowledge, orthostatic hypotension happens to 5% to 30% of people over 65 years old.
The study included 168 individuals (men and women) with a mean age of 81. These 168 individuals visited an outpatient clinic for either cognitive or mobility problems. The test was, they have to lie down for five minutes and then to stand up for three minutes comfortably.
The test found out that the dropping low blood pressure rates are associated strongly with how frail the older person is. To measure frailty, four factors are considered: incontinence, cognitive function, and activities of daily life.
Low blood pressure is not necessarily worrisome for healthy people but with a nice amount of recognition. On the other hand, a low blood pressure drop rate can be worrisome for older people.
According to Dr. Andrea Maier, the study’s lead author, “Frailty is a major problem because it means you’re likely not able to continue to live independently and you’re likely to die in the coming years. Knowing why frailty and falls occur is very important.”
Dr. Maier further mentioned that low blood pressure on older people has significant damage to the organs of the body as bad blood supply is not ideal.
“If your blood isn’t flowing, and it’s hard to stand up, it’s a bit like the electricity has been shut off to the body. As medical professionals, we sometimes think about treating one organ, and we forget that organs interact together, like a network,” as per Dr. Maier.
Dr. Jeff Williamson from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said that this study is a reminder to physicians to keep an eye on old patients with this orthostatic hypotension condition.
“You also need to be careful that blood pressure medicine is not contributing to this, although in the vast majority of people, that’s not the case, and it’s safe to treat their blood pressure to guideline level,” as per Dr. Williamson.
The limitations of the study
As per Dr. Williamson, the study’s design was quite limited. “This is an association study that doesn’t say low blood pressure causes frailty. It just says frailty and low blood pressure walk hand-in-hand.”
Dr. Williamson stressed that it would be nice if the next studies about orthostatic hypotension would be about the medications and dosage levels that would work well with the condition. He also mentioned that he would like to see studies delving on prevention techniques for orthostatic hypotension.
While the study helped identify whether orthostatic hypotension is strongly associated with frailty in older people, it is quite moot as low blood pressure in general, even in young and healthy people is a sign of weakness.
What doctors like Dr. Williamson propose – the next studies to focus more on orthostatic hypotension prevention and treatment. Like for example, a study on cannabis treatment for orthostatic hypotension will be highly valuable.
Health Day. (2020). AHA News: Dropping Blood Pressure May Predict Frailty, Falls in Older People. Available at: https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-03-30/aha-news-dropping-blood-pressure-may-predict-frailty-falls-in-older-people